Monster Cable Keeps On Suing; Asks Court To Block Company From Attending CES

from the seriously,-monster? dept

By now, you must know that Monster Cable has a rather terrible reputation for threatening and suing all sorts of other companies over intellectual property issues — often, it seems, with very little merit (remember when they went after “Monster Golf”? good times…). The latest is that Monster Cable, along with Beats Electronics, are going after competitor Fanny Wang Headphones, claiming both patent and trade dress infringement, because Fanny Wang made headphones that have some similarities in style. The patent (D552,077), by the way, is not a utility patent but a design patent, which is very narrowly focused.

In reading through the actual lawsuit (embedded below), the basic complaint appears to be that Fanny Wang’s headphones look pretty similar to the Beats headphones — but that’s how competition works. Beats/Monster seem to take particular umbrage to the fact that all over their website Fanny Wang compares their headphones to Beats and gently chides Beats for not being the same quality. Again, this is how competition works. You see what works and you build something better. In fact, this point seems to undermine Beats/Monsters whole case: since Fanny Wang is making pretty clear that its products are different than Beats’. The response from Monster/Beats should be to keep building something better as well.

As you’d expect, Beats/Monster also demand all sorts of things (treble damages, destruction of all product, etc.). The complaint also points out that Fanny Wang is planning to be presenting its headphones at CES in early January, implicitly asking the court to stop Fanny Wang from appearing at the show. Remember, kids, the lesson of the day is “why compete, if you can have the government block your competition?”

Not surprisingly, Fanny Wang is using this as a chance to mock Monster for its litigious history and also for promoting its own product. The company’s letter in response to the lawsuit (also embedded below) is relatively amusing, mocking the company for not even trying out their headphones to find out about the superior sound quality:

In short, Fanny Wang has no desire to infringe on your patents or trade dress or be associated with Monster?s sound quality. Instead, Fanny Wang desires to compete by building a superior product marketed under our different and innovative brand: Fanny Wang. In fact, the comparisons that you make reference to in your complaint and letter, clearly demonstrate Fanny Wang?s desire to differentiate itself from Monster & Beats products by identifying differences and allowing the consumer to make its own determinations. Such passing references to competitors are routine in the marketplace and are clearly allowed under both state and federal trademark laws.

Separately, the company notes that tons of vendors in the space have similarly designed headphones because that’s the trend in the marketplace. It also mocks Beats/Monster for claiming that the packaging of the two sets of headphones are the same by stating: “Have you even looked at our site?” and posting the following comparison:

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Companies: beats, fanny wang, monster cable

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Comments on “Monster Cable Keeps On Suing; Asks Court To Block Company From Attending CES”

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The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

There’s not much need to boycott someone whose business model is making superior quality cables in the age of digital. Back when things were analog, they had a debatable point about their cables giving better quality sound. In the world of digital, it’s perfection or nothing. Their cables make not a damned bit of difference.

Essentially their business model is if we hype something enough, stupid people will give us money. OK, maybe we do need to boycott them. That’s a pretty sound business model.

Jmona Reviews says:

Monster is acting like a monster, not news to me.

Well. I have dealt with Monster Cable before as a costumer and a reviewer. I don’t understand who are theytrying to fool here. It’s called competition, and forthe record, their headsets are overpriced and cheap in my opinion. What they are doing by suing Fanny Wang is showingonce more their weakness and are afraid that their products stink that ba that Fanny Wang will take then out of business which they probably will, not because the product may seem similar BUT because of it’s SUPERIORITY. Am very glad to see that some other company that isn’t Monster-Dre it’s actually out of the box bringing to the table a different taste in products, perhaps even BETTER costumer service where they treat the costumer with respect. I have been a consumer of Monster Cables products before as well as reviewed one or two products many thought i was lucky to get from them (under $10 prpducts btw, AND they treat the reviewers like garbage may i say) and the costumer service experience I have received is one of the worst. So, long story short. Welcome to the world Fanny Wang! Where have you been all my life? Can’t wait to try this!

Not an electronic Rodent says:

Back a step please?

The bit I have trouble with is not them suing over a patent but the fact they have a patent on the *design* of headphones in the first place. I’ll be the 1st to admit I didn’t bother to read their patent but looking at the product it looks like a totally obvious way to design a pair of “on ear” headphones – a band over the head, perhaps with some kind of folding mechanism, that attaches to the “cans” that are padded and articulated and in this case the useful though obvious and common feature of not having a built in cable but a 3.5mm jack instead, oh and the mute button and logo.

My question is, what’s not obvious about that that’s worthy of a patent in the first place? Or have I tragically misread the purpose of patent to protect non-obvious expressions of invention? Is a “design patent” different?

As far as I can see they are not significantly different from 20 or 30 other similar style headphones that I could hit with the heave of a well-aimed brick so why do they have a patent over which to sue? Can someone enlighten me?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Back a step please?

Yes, a design patent is a different beast altogether from utility patents, the types that are the best known. The former accord protection to various design elements associated with an article, whereas the latter accords protection to structual features, methods, compositions of matter, etc.

Apple, for example, holds numerous design patents directed to its admittedly unique product styling, and to a large degree it is its product styling that serves as a product differentiator from the products of other manufacturers.

Andre says:

Fanny wang headphones

The acoustics on these are top notch. Simply put the Wangs Look, feel, and sound better. The kicker to me is that one retails for $199 and the other $149…. Can’t wait to see what the noise canceling joints sound like,cause they can only get better. If your looking at sound, durability, style and price this is not a hard choice, Wangs!?

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